I wrote a letter to the editor after reading this op-ed by Purdue president and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. It sounded more political than presidential, which is why I responded.
Let me show you more details so you fully understand what I mean. Here is the letter with some annotations.
Opinion | Don't Let Colleges Off the Hook for Loan Debt
Mitch Daniels makes many insightful points in his indictment of the utterly failed and, as he says, "bankrupt" system…
It was rich to read Mr. Daniels laud the character development of Purdue students that causes them to repay their student loans while their “less-responsible contemporaries” were bailed out by President Biden’s student-loan forgiveness. Purdue was able to freeze tuition by doing exactly what Mr. Daniels said it wasn’t doing: “We haven’t driven up our percentage of international or out-of-state students,” he told the Atlantic in 2020.
The College President Who Simply Won't Raise Tuition
"I'll tell you a funny story," said Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University. It was the day before the first…
Purdue’s data suggests otherwise. Between 2012 and 2021, student enrollment increased: The university added 950 in-state students
and 9,013 out-of-state students.
These students pay 288% more than in-state students and come from wealthier families.
Around 35% of all college students receive Pell grants, but only 14% of incoming Purdue students do. A study by Opportunity Insights indicated that 54% of Purdue students come from the top economic quintile, and only 4% from the bottom. Among 377 selective public colleges, Purdue ranks 331st in percentage of students from families earning less than $20,000 a year.
Economic diversity and student outcomes at Purdue
See how Purdue compares to more than 2,000 American colleges.
Mr. Daniels has no standing to criticize students who take loans because they didn’t have the same privileges as the ones he recruited.
Walter M. Kimbrough, Ph.D.
Mr. Kimbrough was president of Dillard University and Philander Smith College.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Final thought. I know if is rare for a president (or former president) to call out one of their colleagues. Again, Mitch isn’t an academic. He’s a politician. His op-ed reflects that view. But he’s been called out before by a president for his assertion in 2019 that leading Black scholars are “rare creatures.” Glad President Gabrielle Starr went in.